PALLEKELE, July 29: Australia faced an uphill struggle to save the first Test against Sri Lanka�s rampant spinners after losing three early second innings wickets today while trying to chase down a formidable target of 268.
The tourists were precariously placed at 83 for three, with skipper Steve Smith unbeaten on 26, when bad light forced an early end to play for the fourth day running in Pallekele.
The world number one Test team still need another 185 runs for victory on the final day tomorrow, when Sri Lanka�s trio of spinners will expect to capitalise on their early inroads against the tourists. The hosts� leading left-arm spinner Rangana Herath struck in only the second over of the Australian innings when he bowled vice-captain David Warner for one.
Usman Khawaja started positively with three fours but he was ruled leg before wicket to off-spinner Dilruwan Perera when he attempted a sweep shot after making 18, leaving Australia reeling at 33/2.
Then the debutant Lakshan Sandakan joined the party with a ball that turned sharply and bowled opener Joe Burns who had looked well set on 29. � AFP
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 117
Australia 1st innings: 203 all out
Sri Lanka 2nd innings (Overnight 282 for six): Perera lbw b Starc 4, Silva lbw b O�Keefe 7, Karunaratne lbw b Starc 0, Mendis c Nevill b Starc 176, Mathews c Burns b Lyon 9, Chandimal lbw b Marsh 42, De Silva c Khawaja b Lyon 36, D Perera not out 12, Herath c Henriques b Hazlewood 35, Sandakan b Starc 9, Pradeep not out 10. Extras: (B-1, LB-11) 13. Total: (all out in 93.4 overs) 353. Fall of wicket: 1-6, 2-6, 3-45, 4-86, 5-203, 6-274, 7-290, 8-314, 9-323, 10-353. Bowling: Starc 19-4-84-4, Hazlewood 18.4-3-59-2, O�Keefe 16.2-3-42-1, Lyon 27-2-108-2, Warner 1-0-10-0, Voges 1.4-0-3-0, Marsh 9-1-33-1, Smith 1-0-1-0.
Australia 2nd innings: Burns b Sandakan 29, Warner b Herath 1, Khawaja lbw b Dilruwan Perera 18, Smith not out 26, Voges not out 9. Extras: 0. Total: (For 3 wickts in 27 overs) 83. Fall of wicket: 1-2, 2-33, 3-63. Bowling: Pradeep 3-0-16-0, Herath 10-1-35-1, Perera 9-1-19-1, Sandakan 5-1-13-1.